Creative Costuming: A Year in Review

Another Halloween has come and gone, and I was unable to write about creative costume ideas beforehand. Instead, this belated post will celebrate the costumes of 2011. In addition to Halloween costumes, I was treated to a multitude of creative cosplayers at Washington’s Midsummer Renaissance Faire, PAX Prime, and Geek Girl Con.

Washington’s Midsummer Renaissance Fair

This was our second attendance of this particular fair, and each year we are building our costumes. It is very easy to get carried away when the Medieval tailors accept Visa and Mastercard. Our solution is to acquire the clothing elsewhere, and buy one hand-made leather or metal accessory each year.  The boy picked up a pair of bracers, belt, and pouch. I bought a belt and pouch. The dress I found at a consignment store. It is handmade, and might have been someone else’s costume (or possibly prom dress). I donned a pair of wings I bought a couple years ago for a Flutter Pony costume to partake in the Faerie-themed weekend at the Fair. This particular costume was a stop-gap until I can make a medieval dress and/or ranger outfit.

The boy’s pants and doublet were sewn from the Simplicity Pattern 4059. The pants were organic cotton, so that kept with my sustainable-me challenge. The cost of the costume materials was more than I expected, so I have learned to budget before starting a new project. While I did technically save money, relative to the cost of a similar costume for sale at the fair, the time commitment and labor made me understand and appreciate the costs of fair clothing.

PAX Prime

Regrettably, I did not chat with any of the cosplayers at PAX Prime. I may have been slightly over stimulated by the convention; so many shiny lights and loud noises. Given the massive crowds at PAX, if you can think of a video game, sci-fi, or fantasy character, someone was probably dressed at him, her, or it. I saw the Green Power Ranger,  many Jedi, Captain Jack Sparrow, and multiple characters I couldn’t identify.Here is a sample of the creative brilliance at PAX:

My Little Pony
Princess Peach
Bethany and Aveline from Dragon Age 2
Link and Shadow Link
TARDIS and a Dalek (as dresses)

For PAX Prime 2011, I dressed as Kaylee (Firely tv series). This costume is 100% recycled. The pre-worn coveralls were purchased from an army surplus store. Thank god someone was as short as me. The coveralls have stains and a few patched holes if you look closely. The colorful shirt (not visible under the coat) was from Plato’s Closet, a chain of used clothing stores aimed at the teenage crowd. The parasol came from ebay and the jacket was purchased from etsy.com. Both items were used: the parasol was previously used as a prop, and the jacket was sold under the “vintage” category.

Geek Girl Con!

Many geeks take pride in being outside the mainstream, and it is rare to see costumes (or cosplay) at conventions that are entirely mass produced. Despite nearly a dozen Doctor Who cosplayers (at Geek Girl Con alone), no two looked exactly alike. Each woman and man found the shoes, the jackets, the skinny pants, and yes the fez at thrift stores, in their closets, or sometimes made the components themselves. And while many did have the sonic screwdriver replicas that are mass produced, that is just one element of their costume. A special shout out to the woman in a dress-version of the Tom Baker Doctor outfit (I wish I had taken a picture).

Steampunk

The Steampunk genre, as the Geek Girl Con panelists pointed out, fully embraces and almost requires recycling and reuse in the creation of clothing and accessories. The signature components of this genre, which draws on Victorian science fiction, is in the metal and gear-laden accessories. It is closely tied to the “maker culture” that has sprung up in recent years. Although I have not yet made a Steampunk outfit, I picked up a beautiful handmade necklace from Optimystical Studios at Geek Girl Con that I hope to build a costume around (See Halloween Section Below).

Crochet Koopa

This beautiful Bowser spent the summer crocheting her shell, horns, wrist bands, ba-bomb accessory, and Mario’s mushroom. She crocheted each hexagon of the shell individually, and then sewed them together. If you can crochet, she remarked, it was not a technically-difficult task.

Ramona Flowers

This costume was like a wedding tradition: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. She purchased the hoodie and jacket from Goodwill (it took her 6 trips to find just the right thing); borrowed boots from her sister. And she made the subspace purse (using parts of a cardboard box to give it structural integrity).

Halloween

By all accounts it was a low key Halloween, which is not surprising for a Monday night. I was planning to dress as Kaylee again, but had a last minute desire to use the corset I just completed in a sewing class at Pacific Fabrics (Northgate). I put the corset on over a shirt, pants and boots that I often wear to work, added a necklace I bought at Geek Girl Con, tied on my Renaissance belt and pouch and went out as a Victorian Vampire Hunter. In time I will build on this for Steamcon next year.


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